BY SARA MILLER
On Thursday April 21st, 2016, business owners and entrepreneurs have a chance to network with other like-minded individuals at the Caribbean Diaspora Rum Punch Hour at the Center for Social Innovation in Toronto.
Located in the beautiful brick and beam building at 720 Bathurst Street, the event will host the setting where Caribbean based managers, investors, Toronto based entrepreneurs, members of the Caribbean diaspora and more can socialize and network. The social event is part of the Accelerate Caribbean Study project, a business incubation and training program designed by The World Bank Group, infoDEV as part of its Entrepreneurship Program for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC). EPIC is a seven year, twenty million dollar program that is funded by the Government of Canada and seeks to promote and foster the development of sustainable enterprises in the Caribbean.
Speaking on the tour, EPIC coordinator, Sophia Muradayan said in a press release that there is a number of entrepreneurial businesses growing in the Caribbean but require professional training.
“Across the Caribbean there is a groundswell in business incubation. An increasing number of startups are requiring professional business incubation and acceleration services. At the national level, many Caribbean governments now factor startup, innovation and entrepreneurship support into their economic and policy agendas,” she said.
“By effectively training business incubation managers and facilitating their direct exposure to international best practices in business incubation, we will be helping to create a more enabling environment for small businesses.”
Last April, Accelerate Caribbean launched a competition to select individuals to join the program. After sorting through almost fifty applications, a panel of experts’ shortlisted eighteen entrepreneurs, then selected ten after a comprehensive interview process.
Those who were selected include: Caribbean Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Livelihoods, Caribbean Climate Innovation Centre, Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI)’s Center for Enterprise Development, Caribbean Mobile Innovation Programme, GeoTechVision, Grenada Small Business Incubator, National Integrated Business Incubator System, St. Vincent and The Grenadines National Center of Technological Innovation Inc., Startup Jamaica and Telesur Multimedia Innovation Lab.
The program has three core activity pillars that include mobile innovation, women led entrepreneurship and climate technology. Each program participant is paired with an international business mentor who will help each entrepreneur one on one and expose them to new business models and practices. Currently, Accelerate Caribbean is on a tour that will advance the training of Caribbean business incubator managers in Orlando, USA and here in Toronto, Canada from April 17th to the 23rd. The delegation includes business entrepreneurs from over five Caribbean islands including Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana, Grenada and Vincent & the Grenadines.
The Caribbean Diaspora Rum Punch Hour will be held from 6pm to 9pm on Thursday April, 21st, 2016 at the Center of Social Innovation located at 720 Bathurst Street, Toronto, Ontario M5S 2R4.